A Study in Direct Democracy: The Citizen Initiative & the Determinants of Voter Behavior




Schum, Richard M.

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This research looked at the use of citizen initiatives in the American states to identify trends in voter behavior. The findings indicate that voters structure their choices on ballot measures with at least one thought in mind: to hold government actors and institutions accountable. While there are many factors that affect the electoral fate of an initiative, it appears that reforming government is paramount, given the prevalence of governance reforms during the period under scrutiny. This priority is often construed as a conservative bias in favor of limited government; however, the prevalence of successful policy measures that expand the size or scope of government suggests that this is not the case. Rather, two different dynamics are in play—one that tends to limit the discretion of government officials and another that tends to expand the policy scope of government.



Initiative, Referendum, Governance, Direct Democracy, Ballot Measure